The Readerly Report | Love Stories We Love

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This week, in keeping with the Valentine’s Day theme, Gayle and Nicole share their favorite love stories. With love taking all sorts of forms – unrequited, mature, obsessive, triangulated. We also have our book club discussion about His Only Wife by Peace Adzo Medie.

We Talk About:

  • Books we’ve been reading
  • Literary News – List of literary works of fiction that are now in the public domain
  • Our favorite couple/love stories
  • Book club discussion of His Only Wife by Peace Adzo Medie

Let us know your favorite love stories

We hope you enjoyed this episode of the Readerly Report. Gayle and Nicole would love to hear about your favorite love stories. 


The Girls From Corona Del Mar (Gayle’s review) Rufi Thorpe Amazon Bookshop
Goodnight Beautiful (Gayle’s review) Aimee Molloy Amazon Bookshop
The Push (Gayle’s review) Ashley Audrain Amazon Bookshop
The Last Flight (Gayle’s review) Julie Clark Amazon Bookshop
The Wife Upstairs Rachel Hawkins Amazon Bookshop
Indelicacy Amina Cain Amazon Bookshop
The Great Gats F. Scott Fitzgerald Amazon Bookshop
Jane Eyre Charlotte Bronte Amazon Bookshop
My Friend Anna (Gayle’s review) Rachel DeLoache Williams Amazon Bookshop
28 Summers (Gayle’s review) Elin Hildebrand Amazon Bookshop
Mary B. (Gayle’s review) Katherine Chen Amazon Bookshop
Normal People (Gayle’s review) Sally Rooney Amazon Bookshop
The Light We Lost (Gayle’s review) Jill Santopolo Amazon Bookshop
You Caroline Kepnes Amazon Bookshop
Evvie Drake Starts Over (Gayle’s review) Linda Holmes Amazon Bookshop
Forever Is The Worst Long Time (Gayle’s review) Camille Pagan Amazon Bookshop
His Only Wife (Gayle’s review) Peace Adzo Medie Amazon Bookshop
Our Souls At Night (Gayle’s review) Kent Haruf Amazon Bookshop
The Hating Game (Gayle’s review) Sally Thorne Amazon Bookshop
My Darling Duke Stacy Reid Amazon Bookshop
An American Marriage(Gayle’s review) Tayari Jones Amazon Bookshop
One Day In December (Gayle’s review) Josie Silver Amazon Bookshop
One Day (Gayle’s review) David Nicholls Amazon Bookshop
When No One Is Watching Alyssa Cole Amazon Bookshop
The Invisible Life Of Addie LaRue V. S. Schwab Amazon Bookshop
*Books linked above are our affiliate links through Amazon. There’s no additional expense to you, but if you make a purchase through us a small portion of that contributes to the costs associated with making our podcast. Thanks so much for listening and for your support!


02:16 What Gayle’s been reading

  • [02:24] – The Girls from Corona Del Mar by Rufi Thorpe
    • If you’ve read any Rufi Thorpe, you know that her books are bittersweet and have some dark humor in them. The Girls from Corona del Mar was no exception.
    • It’s about two girls growing up in Corona del Mar as teenagers and how their lives diverge — one of them gets married early and has a special-needs kid, whereas the other one escapes the suburban town, goes to college, and becomes a scholar.
    • These two women go in and out of each other’s lives over the years. The book explores the ways they understand and impact each other and the secrets they’re keeping from each other. 
  • [04:15] – Goodnight Beautiful by Aimee Molloy
    • This is a psychological thriller about a couple that moves from Manhattan to a suburban New York town.
    • He’s a psychologist. He sees patients in the basement of this house, but someone’s listening in on his sessions with his patients. 
  • [05:45] – The Push by Ashley Audrain
    • This is a book about a woman’s fraught relationship with her daughter whom she cannot connect with emotionally.
    • It’s a thriller/psychological drama, but it was very well written. You really get into the head of the mom, and you’re invested in what’s the issue between these two.
    • It’s a lot like The Baby Thief by Barbara Bisantz Raymond and a bit like We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver.

08:32 What Nicole’s been reading

  • [09:44] – The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins
    • It is a loose retelling of Jane Eyre. Instead of being a governess, she’s a dog walker in this exclusive neighbourhood called Thornfield Estates in Birmingham, Alabama.
    • It concentrates on the gothic relationship between Jane and Rochester.
  • [12:18] – The Last Flight by Julie Clark
    • It’s a psychological thriller about this woman who’s trying to escape from her husband.
    • She switches airline tickets with a woman she meets online, Eva, who’s also running. 
    • Eva’s plane ends up crashing, and the woman on the run from her husband has cover to start building her life. She also starts delving into Eva’s life. 
  • [14:25] – Indelicacy by Amina Cain
    • It’s about a woman who starts off as a cleaning woman in an art museum in a European city. You don’t really know where or when she is.
    • She is very interested in the arts and dancing, and she has aspirations to do something with her life.
    • She meets and marries a wealthy man. And the book follows her transition from a cleaning woman to a wealthy woman. 
    • The book explores her place in society, gender relationships, and the freedom as well as the new restrictions that come with her wealth. 

17:52 Literary news

  • [18:20] – Public Domain Day
    • Every January 1st, there’s a list of books that enter the public domain so that you can create from them without fear of copyright infringement. 
  • [18:50] – Books in the public domain in 2021:
    • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
    • Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
    • Arrowsmith by Sinclair Clewis
    • An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser 
    • In Our Time by Ernest Hemingway
    • Gentlemen Prefer Blondes by Anita Loos
  • [19:31] – There’s a new retelling of The Great Gatsby. It’s Nick by Michael Farris Smith
  • [24:57] – Movies in the public domain
    • The Freshman (1925)
    • Go West (1925)
    • Clash of the Wolves (1925)
  • [26:17] – Anna Sorokin (aka Anna Delvey) has been released from prison. 
    • The book My Friend Anna: The True Story of the Fake Heiress of New York City by Rachel DeLoache Williams was about Anna Sorokin.

21:47 Why is The Great Gatsby considered to be the greatest American novel?

28:33 Books about relationships that are lived and experienced in secret

  • [28:46] – 28 Summers by Elin Hilderbrand 
    • Gayle: The couple is Mallory and Jake. Mallory is in her twenties, and Jake is her older brother’s friend. They meet on Labor Day weekend on a vineyard and their clandestine relationship kicks off. They meet every year on the same weekend on the same vineyard, and no one figures out they are involved. 
  • [30:40] – Mary B by Katherine J. Chen
    • This is Pride and Prejudice told from Mary’s perspective.
    • Mary becomes secretly involved with someone surprising. You’ll have to read it to find out who Mary’s secret love is.

32:55 Books about tortured love

  • [33:27] – Normal People by Sally Rooney
    • Marianne and Connell meet in high school. Connell is embarrassed for people to know he’s in a relationship with Marianne because she’s a weird, bookish loner and he’s cool and popular.
    • They end up in college and things change. She becomes popular, and he’s the weird loner.
    • There’s a faithful movie adaptation on Hulu — Normal People (2020)
  • [34:38] – The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo
    • This is about a couple, Lucy and Gabriel, that meet on 9/11.
    • Even though they love each other and should be together, circumstances keep them apart.
  • [35:43] – You by Caroline Kepnes
    • It’s about a man, Joe, who engineers his way into Guinevere Beck’s life.
    • The book does such a good job of putting you in the mind of this psychopath, Joe.
    • There’s a movie adaptation on Netflix — You (2018).

38:10 Books about adult relationships i.e. couples past their uber-romantic twenties whose past failed relationships have left them cynical

  • [38:50] – Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes 
    • Gayle: This is about Evvie and Dean.
    • Evvie is widowed, living by herself in the house she shared with her husband. Her relationship with her late husband was not a good one.
    • Evvie agrees to let her friend’s friend, Dean Tenney, live in her guest house for a couple of months. 
    • Dean Tenney is a major league pitcher who has a case of the “yips”. He’s lost his edge and has been cut from the team. 
    • The book is about the relationship between Evvie and Dean. It starts out as a friendship and develops into something more.

40:58 Books about unrequited love

  • [41:10] – Forever is the Worst Long Time by Camille Pagán
    • Gayle: It’s a bit of a love triangle. 
    • Rob falls in love with a woman named Lou.
    • When Rob goes to introduce his best friend James to Lou, James also falls completely in love with Lou.
    • James carries a torch for her for a really long time. When something happens between Rob and Lou, James pursues Lou but this has unexpected consequences for both of them.
  • [42:59] – His Only Life by Peace Adzo Medie
    • Nicole: It’s about a woman who marries a prominent man in her community in absentia.
    • When she goes to live with her husband, she discovers she’s living in an apartment of her own while her husband is living with a lover his family doesn’t like.
    • She falls in love with him and wants to be the only one in his life.

44:20 Books about bittersweet love

  • Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf
    • Gayle: This is about a relationship between Addie and Louis.
    • They come together in their seventies. They’re both lonely, and they develop a relationship that starts out as a friendship and grows into something more. 
    • Due to pressure from Addie’s grandson, Addie and Louis are forced to live apart and break up. 
    • Their happiness is taking away happiness from people they care about. And so, the question is, what do they owe to the people around them? Should they kowtow to other people’s desires or should they pursue their own happiness?

45:42 Books about steamy romance

  • [45:50] – The Hating Game by Sally Thorne
    • This book is about Lucy and Josh who work together. They hate each other, are competitive, and vie for the same promotion.
    • In spite of the hate, you get the impression they have this intense attraction to each other.
  • [46:59] – My Darling Duke by Stacey Reid
    • There’s a reluctant romance that develops.
    • Katherine Danvers doesn’t care about marriage, but she needs to find a husband in order for her siblings to find great partners. So she pretends to be engaged to a reclusive duke, Alexander Masters. 
    • Alexander Masters catches wind of this scheme and decides to go along with her ruse. They pretend to be in a relationship.

50:00 Books about love triangles

  • [50:05] – An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
    • Gayle: This was a very compelling book about the love triangle of Celestial, Roy, and Andre.
    • Celestial and Roy were married. Roy goes to prison for many years for something he didn’t do.
    • While Roy’s away, Celestial develops a relationship with Andre, her childhood friend.  
    • The question is, when Roy finally gets out of prison, will he and Celestial stay together or will Celestial stay with Andre?

52:08 Book about couples that would be together but for one inconvenient fact

  • [52:34] – One Day in December by Josie Silver
    • This is about a woman who falls in love with a man at first sight, only to discover that he is her best friend’s new boyfriend.
  • [53:28] – One Day by David Nicholls

53:48 More love stories from Nicole

  • [53:58] – When No One is Watching by Alyssa Cole
    • This is an adult book about a woman who wants to present a tour of the black historical elements of her neighborhood. Her neighbour, Theo, offers to assist her.
    • She is just out of a marriage that ended badly. And Theo is sharing a space with his increasingly-estranged girlfriend because he can’t afford to move out.
    • A relationship of sorts develops between them.
  • [55:44] – The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab
    • This is about an immortal lady who is unable to make a mark in people’s lives. She is instantly forgotten the moment she leaves their sight.
    • She finally runs across this man in the bookstore who remembers her a second time, and they embark on an adventure to figure out why he can remember her.

58:20 Book club discussion — His Only Wife by Peace Adzo Medie 

  • [58:26] – Synopsis
    • This is a book about a woman named Afi who lives with her mom in a small town in Ghana.
    • Her mom sets her up for an arranged marriage with a very wealthy man named Elikem. 
    • The catch is that Eli is already involved with somebody else. Afi forges ahead with the marriage in spite of this.
    • Elikem doesn’t show up on the day of the wedding. He sends somebody in his stead. So, Afi doesn’t even meet Elikem until several weeks later when she moves into a beautiful, modern apartment in the big city.
    • She finally meets Eli and falls in love with him right away.
    • The book is about their relationship, but it’s also about Afi coming into her own and becoming an independent woman, figuring out what she wants in her life and how she’s going to get it.
    • Spoiler alert! Spoiler alert!! Gayle and Nicole discuss His Only Wife
  • [01:00:52] – Gayle’s thoughts about His Only Wife by Peace Adzo Medie
    • He’s basically in love with someone else. Even when Eli and Afi have a child together, she still doesn’t feel he’s fully committed to her.
    • “I love that she basically figures out how to carve a life for herself that makes her happy, and she lets him go.” 
  • [01:02:28] – Nicole’s thoughts about His Only Wife by Peace Adzo Medie
    • I was happy to see the setup — Afi’s relationship with her mom, how her mom endured situations that are uncomfortable because Afi’s father dies and leaves them in a situation where they are at his brother’s mercy, and how they end up living on the goodwill of the community. 
    • Living hand to mouth and off the kindness of others, you can see why she would agree to this situation where she wouldn’t get to meet her husband or doesn’t have a lot of agency or say.
  • [01:03:38] – For two thirds of the book, not much happens. She’s in this holding pattern, constantly waiting for Elikem. I was bored with her because she’s not advancing an agenda and not really taking full advantage of what she has.
  • [01:04:38] – Where did Afi’s agency come from? Her growth/change in agency felt sudden.
  • [01:05:53] – Her expectations of wanting to be the main woman felt American, at odds with the traditional society she grew up in. 
  • [01:14:20] – How did Elikem feel about Afi’s newfound independence and fieriness?

  • [01:15:40] – Will Elikem and Afi stay separated?

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We’d love to hear from you at any and all places that you love to talk about books. You can find us at the spaces below.

Nicole Bonia: Nicole’s Website | Instagram|Goodreads
Gayle Weiswasser: Everyday I Write The Book Blog | Twitter | FacebookInstagram | Goodreads
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If you have any questions or ideas for a podcast,  email us! You can reach Nicole at, and you can reach Gayle at As always, thanks for listening and happy reading

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